Duit language

Last updated
Native to Boyacá, Colombia
Region Altiplano Cundiboyacense
Ethnicity Muisca
Extinct yes
  • Kuna-Colombian
    • Muysccubun
      • Duit
Only numerals
Official status
Official language in
Muisca Confederation
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
qrx (also used for the unrelated Mittlere Neu-Hebriden)
Glottolog duit1239 [1]
Chibcha lang.png
The second-most southern yellow dot indicates roughly the area where Duit was spoken

Duit is an extinct Chibcha language, spoken by the Muisca of present-day Boyacá, Colombia. The language appears in the modern name of the pre-Columbian settlement and last ruler Tundama; Duitama. [2]



The language is only known from one fragment analysed by scholar Ezequiel Uricoechea in 1871. The linguist mentioned that the analysed text was part of a larger work that hitherto has not been found. From the short text it was clear that the Duit language differed slightly from the main version of Chibcha, Muysccubun, spoken by the Muisca on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. [3]

As the Muisca did not have a script, only for their numerals, written Duit language texts do not exist. [4]

Comparison to Muysccubun and numerals

EnglishDuit Muysccubun Numerals as noted by Acosta, Humboldt and Zerda
Muisca cyphers acc acosta humboldt zerda.svg
starcúrchafagua [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

Chibchan languages language family

The Chibchan languages make up a language family indigenous to the Isthmo-Colombian Area, which extends from eastern Honduras to northern Colombia and includes populations of these countries as well as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The name is derived from the name of an extinct language called Chibcha or Muysccubun, once spoken by the people who lived on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense of which the city of Bogotá was the southern capital at the time of the Spanish Conquista. However, genetic and linguistic data now indicate that the original heart of Chibchan languages and Chibchan-speaking peoples may not have been in Colombia at all, but in the area of the Costa Rica-Panama border, where one finds the greatest variety of Chibchan languages.

Muisca Ethnic group, Colombia

The Muisca are an indigenous people and culture of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Colombia, that formed the Muisca Confederation before the Spanish conquest. The people spoke Muysccubun, a language of the Chibchan language family, also called Muysca and Mosca. As one out of four advanced civilizations of the Americas, they were encountered by conquistadors ordered by the Spanish Empire in 1537 at the time of the conquest. Subgroupings of the Muisca were mostly identified by their allegiances to three great rulers: the zaque, centered in Hunza, ruling a territory roughly covering modern southern and northeastern Boyacá and southern Santander; the zipa, centered in Bacatá and encompassing most of modern Cundinamarca, the western Llanos; and the iraca, religious ruler of Suamox and modern northeastern Boyacá and southwestern Santander.

Chibcha language Extinct language of Colombia, spoken by the Muisca, one of the four advanced indigenous civilizations of the Americas

Chibcha is an extinct language of Colombia, spoken by the Muisca, one of the four advanced indigenous civilizations of the Americas. The Muisca inhabited the central highlands of what today is the country of Colombia.

Firavitoba Municipality and town in Boyacá Department, Colombia

Firavitoba is a town and municipality in Sugamuxi Province, a subregion of the department of Boyacá in Colombia.

Cerinza Municipality and town in Boyacá Department, Colombia

Cerinza is a town and municipality in the Colombian Department of Boyacá, and part of the Tundama Province subregion. Cerinza borders Belén in the north, Encino, Santander in the west, Santa Rosa de Viterbo in the south and Floresta and Betéitiva in the east.

Ezequiel Uricoechea Colombian filologist, humanist and scientist

Ezequiel Uricoechea Rodríguez was a Colombian linguist and scientist. He is considered one of the first Colombian scientists and a pioneer in Spanish-language linguistics.

Guecha Warriors were warriors of the Muisca Confederation in the Tenza Valley, Ubaque valley and Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the pre-Columbian era. The Guecha warrior was chosen for his merit in attitude and physique rather than by class. He was recognised by his unique status in society and his adornment with gold, feathers and inks.

Muisca Confederation Loose confederation of different Muisca rulers (zaques, zipas, iraca and tundama) in the central Andean highlands of present-day Colombia before the Spanish conquest of northern South America

The Muisca Confederation was a loose confederation of different Muisca rulers in the central Andean highlands of present-day Colombia before the Spanish conquest of northern South America. The area, presently called Altiplano Cundiboyacense, comprised the current departments of Boyacá, Cundinamarca and minor parts of Santander with a total surface area of approximately 25,000 square kilometres (9,700 sq mi).

Muisca calendar

The Muisca calendar was a lunisolar calendar used by the Muisca. The calendar was composed of a complex combination of months and three types of years were used; rural years, holy years, and common years. Each month consisted of thirty days and the common year of twenty months, as twenty was the 'perfect' number of the Muisca, representing the total of extremeties; fingers and toes. The rural year usually contained twelve months, but one leap month was added. This month represented a month of rest. The holy year completed the full cycle with 37 months.

Muisca numerals numeric notation and a vigesimal numerical system, based on multiples of twenty (Chibcha: gueta) used by the Muisca, one of the four advanced civilizations of the Americas before the Spanish conquest

Muisca numerals were the numeric notation system used by the Muisca, one of the four advanced civilizations of the Americas before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca. Just like the Mayas, the Muisca had a vigesimal numerical system, based on multiples of twenty. The Muisca numerals were based on counting with fingers and toes. They had specific numbers from one to ten, yet for the numbers between eleven and nineteen they used "foot one" (11) to "foot nine" (19). The number 20 was the 'perfect' number for the Muisca which is visible in their calendar. To calculate higher numbers than 20 they used multiples of their 'perfect' number; gue-muyhica would be "20 times 4", so 80. To describe "50" they used "20 times 2 plus 10"; gue-bosa asaqui ubchihica, transcribed from guêboʒhas aſaqɣ hubchìhicâ. In their calendar, which was lunisolar, they only counted from one to ten and twenty. Each number had a special meaning, related to their deities and certain animals, especially the abundant toads.

Iraca Ruler and high priest of Sugamuxi

The iraca, sometimes spelled iraka, was the ruler and high priest of Sugamuxi in the confederation of the Muisca who inhabited the Altiplano Cundiboyacense; the central highlands of the Colombian Andes. Iraca can also refer to the Iraka Valley over which they ruled. Important scholars who wrote about the iraca were Lucas Fernández de Piedrahita, Alexander von Humboldt and Ezequiel Uricoechea.

José Domingo Duquesne

José Domingo Duquesne was a Colombian clergyman, theologist, scientist and writer. Polyglot Duquesne spoke Spanish, French, Latin, Greek, Italian and Chibcha.

Bernardo de Lugo

Fray Bernardo de Lugo was a Colombian linguist, friar and writer. He has been an important contributor to the knowledge about the Chibcha language of the Muisca, having published the oldest surviving work on the language in 1619.

Muisca mummification

This article describes the practice of mummification by the Muisca. The Muisca inhabited the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the Colombian Andes before the arrival of the Spanish and were an advanced civilisation. They mummified the higher social class members of their society, mainly the zipas, zaques, caciques, priests and their families. The mummies would be placed in caves or in dedicated houses ("mausoleums") and were not buried.

Liborio Zerda Colombian anthropologist (1830-1919)

Liborio Zerda was a Colombian physician and Muisca scholar. Zerda has been important in the natural sciences of the late 19th and early 20th century in Colombia, publishing many articles about various topics, from medicine to chemical analysis, radioactivity and the popular drink chicha.

Spanish conquest of the Muisca Part of the Spanish conquest of Colombia

The Spanish conquest of the Muisca took place from 1537 to 1540. The Muisca were the inhabitants of the central Andean highlands of Colombia before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. They were organised in a loose confederation of different rulers; the zipa of Bacatá, with his headquarters in Funza, the zaque of Boyacá, with his headquarters in Hunza, the iraca of the sacred City of the Sun Sugamuxi, the Tundama of Tundama, and several independent caciques. The leaders of the Confederation at the time of conquest were zipa Tisquesusa, zaque Quemuenchatocha, iraca Sugamuxi and Tundama in the northernmost portion of their territories. The Muisca were organised in small communities of circular enclosures, with a central square where the bohío of the cacique was located. They were called "Salt People" because of their extraction of salt in various locations throughout their territories, mainly in Zipaquirá, Nemocón and Tausa. For the main part self-sufficient in their well-organised economy, the Muisca traded with the European conquistadors valuable products as gold, tumbaga and emeralds with their neighbouring indigenous groups. In the Tenza Valley, to the east of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense where the majority of the Muisca lived, they extracted emeralds in Chivor and Somondoco. The economy of the Muisca was rooted in their agriculture with main products maize, yuca, potatoes and various other cultivations elaborated on elevated fields. Agriculture had started around 3000 BCE on the Altiplano, following the preceramic Herrera Period and a long epoch of hunter-gatherers since the late Pleistocene. The earliest archaeological evidence of inhabitation in Colombia, and one of the oldest in South America, has been found in El Abra, dating to around 12,500 years BP.

Muisca warfare

This article describes the warfare of the Muisca. The Muisca inhabited the Tenza and Ubaque valleys and the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, the high plateau of the Colombian Eastern Ranges of the Andes in the time before the Spanish conquest. Their society was mainly egalitarian with little difference between the elite class (caciques) and the general people. The Muisca economy was based on agriculture and trading raw materials like cotton, coca, feathers, sea snails and gold with their neighbours. Called "Salt People", they extracted salt from brines in Zipaquirá, Nemocón and Tausa to use for their cuisine and as trading material.

Muisca art Pre-Columbian goldworking of the Chibchan area

This article describes the art produced by the Muisca. The Muisca established one of the four grand civilisations of the pre-Columbian Americas on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in present-day central Colombia. Their various forms of art have been described in detail and include pottery, textiles, body art, hieroglyphs and rock art. While their architecture was modest compared to the Inca, Aztec and Maya civilisations, the Muisca are best known for their skilled goldworking. The Museo del Oro in the Colombian capital Bogotá houses the biggest collection of golden objects in the world, from various Colombian cultures including the Muisca.

The Cabildo Mayor del Pueblo Muisca is an organisation of indigenous people, in particular the Muisca. It was established in September 2002 in Bosa, Bogotá, Colombia. The organisation, member of National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), focuses on defending the rights of the descendants of the Muisca, and the development of cultural and historical heritage, territory and health and the linguistics of the indigenous language, Muysccubun.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Duit". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. (in Spanish) Biography Cacique Tundama - Pueblos Originarios
  3. Uricoechea, Ezequiel. 1871. Gramática, vocabulario, catecismo y confesionario de la lengua chibcha, según antiguos manuscritos anónimos e inéditos.
  4. Izquierdo Peña, 2009
  5. (in Spanish) fagua - Muysccubun online dictionary